Moving to Alaska for Free

Do you get paid to live in Alaska? 

While it’s a common misconception that you can move there for free, you can get paid to live in Alaska. The Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) takes the state's oil wealth and shares an annual portion with all permanent residents (both children and adults). So, if you're thinking about moving to Alaska, here are some things you’ll need to know about how it all works and how to qualify for a payout.  

Person riding in a canoe on an Alaskan lake, free after moving to Alaska.

 

How did the Alaska PFD start? 

In 1969, 164 tracts of state-owned land were auctioned to an oil company for $900 million — sparking much debate about where the money should go. At the time, the governor pushed for it to go directly to the people, but the idea didn’t catch on for several years. In 1976, the state constitution established the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation to manage the state's oil revenue, and in 1982, they began paying residents a portion of the funds.  

Payment amounts 

According to the Alaska Department of Revenue, PFD amounts have ranged from $331 to $2,072 per person since 1982. The last several years' payouts were: 

  • 2017: $1,100 
  • 2018: $1,600 
  • 2019: $1,606 
  • 2020: $992 

Fun fact: If a person were eligible for dividend checks since the program began in 1982, they would have received $45,419.41 total! 

How to get paid to live in Alaska 

To qualify for the PFD each year, you: 

  • Must have been a resident of Alaska during the entire calendar year (January 1-December 31)
  • Must have the intent to remain an Alaskan for life 
  • ​​​​​​​Can’t have a claim to residency in any other state or country 
  • Can’t have been sentenced with a felony conviction, incarcerated for a felony conviction, or incarcerated for a misdemeanor (if convicted of a felony or two or more misdemeanors previously), for the calendar year 
  • ​​​​​​​Can’t have been absent from Alaska for more than 180 days (except for an allowable absence, like college, medical treatment or military service) 
  • ​​​​​​​Must be physically present in Alaska for at least 72 consecutive hours during one of the two previous years 

Note: These requirements were correct at time of posting. Please check the Alaska Dept. of Revenue for the most recent eligibility requirements and qualifying dates. 

For children, the eligibility is based on the parent or guardian (unless they are 18 or legally emancipated).  

Not everyone who applies meets the criteria. In 2018 (the most recent year with application data available), 670,759 people applied, but only 629,820 received payments. Before you pack up with the intent of getting the dividend, make sure you meet the requirements. 

Alaska residency requirements 

The main eligibility requirement for the PFD is establishing residency. You can prove you're a resident of Alaska with intent to remain in one of several ways: 

  • Moving household goods to Alaska and providing a shipping receipt  
  • ​​​​​​​Showing proof of: 
    • A lease or rental agreement in the applicant's name 
    • home purchase
    • ​​​​​​​moorage/boat harbor fees (if living in a vessel) 
    • employment, such as a W2 or paystub 
    • Alaska driver's license or ID 
    • vehicle registration (vehicle or truck, not motorcycle or motorhome) 
    • state benefits that require residency like Senior Benefits or Alaska Housing 
    • ​​​​​​​voter registration 

If you show any intent to be a resident elsewhere — like if you register to vote in another state or country or take actions that are deemed inconsistent with your intention to remain in Alaska indefinitely — the Alaska Department of Revenue will disqualify your application for the program. It's also important to note that you can't become a resident while absent from Alaska (unless it's an allowable absence, like for the military or college). 

Applying for the PFD 

If you think you qualify, you can complete a paper or online application during the PFD application season (January 1st through March 31st). Every adult and child must apply — so a husband and wife with three kids will submit five applications. Adults can fill out and sign a child's application after completing their own. No matter how you submit your application, be sure and keep proof of filing by printing the "Congratulations" page online, keeping a certified mail or delivery receipt for mail, or asking for a receipt if hand-delivering the application.  

Spending the money 

You can spend the money however you like! Many residents use it to offset the costs of living in the state, while others take vacations or save it for retirement or big purchases. The funds are not taxed by the state (because there's no statewide income tax), but residents do have to pay federal income tax on the payments. It gets claimed as regular income for children and adults. 

Have questions? 

If you have questions about eligibility, application or payments, you can contact the Alaska Department of Revenue PFD Division online. And if you're ready to move to the Last Frontier so you can get paid to live in Alaska, U-Pack® can help. We can move you from any of the lower 48, Hawaii, Canada or Puerto Rico to Alaska. Get a free moving quote online or by calling 844-362-5303844-594-3077 to get started. Let us know in the comments if you have any questions about the process — we're here to help!